Am I Crazy? I Borrowed Points From AMEX To Book A Delta SkyMiles Award

by joeheg

I try not to collect Delta SkyMiles. As soon as I have enough points for an award ticket, I’ll use them. Our accounts are never totally empty because I collect points here and there from Starbucks purchases and revenue flights.

If I need a significant amount of points for an award ticket, I can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to SkyMiles. However, it’s not the best use of Membership Rewards AND AMEX charges a fee when you send points to US airlines.

I was looking for a flight from New York to Orlando and found a cheap fare with Delta.

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At the same time, I checked for award tickets and the same flight was going for 5,500 SkyMiles.

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Since I’d be traveling with Sharon, I didn’t want to book seats in Basic Economy since Delta’s restrictions on these tickets are some of the industry’s worst.

The cost for a Main Cabin seat was $109 or 8,000 SkyMiles. Because I have a Delta SkyMiles AMEX card, I get an additional 15% savings when booking award flights. That works out to a respectable 1.5 CPP value, which is darn good for SkyMiles.

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There was one small problem. My Delta SkyMiles account balance was about 1,250 SkyMiles short. I could have transferred the points from my Membership Rewards account but I didn’t want to pay the fee to transfer points to Delta. I remembered another way to get extra Delta SkyMiles.

The Miles Headstart feature of the Delta AMEX co-brand cards.  I’ve written about this in the past but I never tried to get points this way before. I only needed a few miles so I gave it a try.

The first thing you need to know is that to transfer miles, you need to start with your AMEX account. You can’t get a points loan from Delta’s website. I couldn’t get this to work on my computer but I was able to get it to work with the AMEX app. I could borrow up to 5,000 miles but I only needed 1,250. I put in for the points and waited. It took around 5 minutes for the points to show up in my account.

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I was able to log into my account and finish booking the award tickets.

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I have six months to earn 1,250 points with my Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card. There’s a tracker on the AMEX website that shows your progress. If I don’t earn the full amount of miles by then, I’ll need to pay 2.5 cents per mile for the remaining balance.

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Any miles earned with my Delta AMEX card will count toward paying it back. However, Delta SkyMiles earned through other means won’t count.

It probably would have made more sense to transfer the miles from my AMEX Membership Rewards account since I can easily earn 2-5 points per dollar spent with my AMEX card collection. However, I only needed a few miles to book these award tickets and I was curious about how the process worked.

All I have to do now is remember to spend $1,250 on my Delta AMEX card (or less if I can get some bonus spending categories) in the next 6 months.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


tom February 22, 2023 - 7:38 pm

I’d never heard of this feature, sounds cool, but it only would have cost you $1.20 to transfer 2k points from amex to delta. Where as if you don’t earn the 1250 miles its going to cost you $31.25

ffi February 23, 2023 - 9:33 am

Your lost cash on the 1250 in spend is 2.625c each per mile
Very expensive for Delta miles.
Unless you buy Delta tickets with 625 spend – even then it works out to 1.32c per DL mile

Fernando esair Lopez February 24, 2023 - 3:42 pm



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